June 27th, 2018
Statement by Oregon Counseling Association Regarding the Trump Administration’sZero Tolerance Policy and the Detainment of Immigrant Children
Oregon Counseling Association is shocked and saddened for the thousands of immigrants, including over 2,000 children, who have been detained and separated from their family members as a result of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy. Even in this time of extraordinary political divide in our country, the policy and its resulting practices have been widely condemned by individuals and organizations across the political spectrum. While President Trump last week signed an Executive Order formally ending the practice of separating families the border, there is still no timetable for reuniting separated families, and multiple news outlets are reporting that detained migrants are being offered reunification with their children only if they agree to withdraw their asylum cases and be voluntarily deported. Some current and former U.S. government officials believe that many of the separated families will never be reunited.
As counseling professionals, we possess an intimate knowledge through our training and clinical experiences of the harmful consequences of adverse childhood experiences, as well as the trauma that results from forced separation of any duration from parents and caregivers. Separating and detaining children and families indefinitely is a clear catalyst for trauma, and there have been disturbing reports of the treatment children have received while detained, including being forcibly given psychotropic drugs without patient or parental consent in response to behaviors that counseling professionals can easily identify as trauma responses.
The actions sanctioned by our federal government’s policy represent clear risk factors for future mental health and substance abuse challenges. As such, our profession’s values, as well as our roles as advocates for positive change, compel all counselors to condemn this inhumane policy in the strongest possible terms. The American Counseling Association has called on the Trump Administration to immediately and permanently end family separations and the zero tolerance policy, present a clear plan with a timeline for reuniting detained children with the parents or legal guardians who brought them to the U.S. border, and present a clear plan for providing treatment of the trauma inflicted on all family members impacted by this policy.
We urge ORCA members and the broader counseling community to take action. Call or write letters to your congressional representatives urging them to demand that the Trump Administration promptly reunite and provide treatment to the thousands of individuals harmed by the Zero Tolerance Policy. While we recognize that the counseling profession is comprised of both critics and supporters of the current administration, it is also true that our training and knowledge related to human growth and development knows no political ideology. Please join us in standing up in support of detained immigrants and in opposition to government-sanctioned trauma.
Joel A. Lane, PhD LPC NCC
President, Oregon Counseling Association